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I’m finally FINALLY getting around to posting about our Aruban vacation! It was quite the task going through all these photos and I still have to edit some video I took, but I did want to post this since many of you are headed to Aruba for Spring Break!
We love love loved our time in Aruba and want to go back with our children in the near future. We loved how familiar it felt, how clean it was (mostly), how gorgeous the beaches were, how warm the water was, how good the food was, how we found European influences everywhere and how they accept American money across the island. It was easy to get to, easy to get around on and we felt safe the entire time. We cannot say enough good about Aruba. Basically, you all were right! I had at least 100 of you telling me we HAD to experience this lovely island.
Winter and spring are the best times to go to travel to Aruba because the weather is moderate, so March for us was perfect. The average temperature when we were there was 83 degrees and windy. I was super annoyed by the wind because HAIR, but my husband pointed out that the heat was much more bearable and pleasant with that wind. So I tied my hair back and learned to count my blessings.
We were so relaxed the entire time and thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed focusing on each other. No work, no kids, just us. If you haven’t had a trip away from your kids with just your spouse in a while, GO! It doesn’t have to be to a tropical island; Staycations work, too! Taking yourself out of the everyday grind helps change your focus to your spouse and reminds you both why you like each other so much. I’d highly recommend it! Come to think of it, I’d highly recommend a lot of things about couples-only trips and about Aruba, so here’s a post all about it. Below are all the specific details. If I’ve forgotten something or you have a specific question about a certain topic or place, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it!
Here we go!
Where we stayed
When we travel, we usually have kids with us and try to select rooms and activities that are obviously family friendly. So, when the idea of just Gordon and I going away for a few days came up in conversation, we knew we wanted an adult-only resort or hotel. So we booked a hotel room at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in Oranjestad. They have an adult-only hotel as well as a separate family-friendly hotel. We stayed at the adult-only hotel and were so surprised to walk into one of their largest suites! They had heard it was our anniversary and wanted to make our trip as memorable as possible. That was my goal with this trip too, so it was so nice to be received with open arms! As you can tell by the photos below, our hotel suite was larger than our apartment in the city!! We were spoiled with space, a gorgeous view and a very quiet room. Considering I am amongst kids and chaos most days, a quiet room is something I only dream about. They seriously delivered for us. We loved the downtown location, all the nearby shopping and restaurants, the proximity to the airport and how everything was easy to get to! While there is no beachfront property at the hotel, they own The Renaissance Private Island with boats that will take you there all day! Lots of these photos are from that as well. (More info about the island below!)
What we did
We got a lot crossed off our ‘must see’ list! Below were our favorites!
So many of you recommended that we rent a Jeep and explore the island and that is exactly what we did! We were able to book one from Hertz in the lobby of the Renaissance. Super convenient for us and it turned out to be one of our favorite things we did! Because the island is so small, we were able to see the California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, the Bushiribana Ruins, the Natural Bridge, Baby Beach, Palm Beach, Eagle Beach and all the beautiful views along the way. It was a really relaxing, bumpy and enjoyable drive. I’d highly recommend it!
Snorkeling Boat Tour with Octopus Aruba–this was a big highlight for us and so so fun! We loved being able to enjoy the 3-hour morning sail, but also the two snorkeling stops! The weather was perfect and so was the water. The part where I accidentally flashed some fellow snorkelers was not my best moment, but whatever. My husband said they probably liked it (gross) so you’re welcome, swimmers. Also included in our tickets were a light breakfast and lunch with unlimited drinks. We want to go back and do this with our kids once they are a little older.
Parasailing with Delphi Water Sports–if you’re not afraid of heights and even if you are, both Gordon and I are here to tell you you MUST try this!! It was so so fun! We both love roller coasters, so this was a breeze compared to some of the ones I’ve been on. We went on a pretty windy afternoon and got jolted around a ton, but it just added to the thrill of it. We both were laughing the entire way up and the entire way down saying again and again how fun it was. The boat driver tried to scare us by slowing down and making our feet come about 6 inches away from the water before he floored it and launched us back into the air again, but we weren’t scared at all! It was just so funny and fun to experience. A little pricey for just 10 minutes of air time, but totally worth it! (And these were the people who said “it must be a good sign that everyone thinks you’re still on your honeymoon!” and we agree 100%)
It’s important to note that on nearly every beach, there are chair and umbrella rentals. If we were to stay at an Airbnb next time, we’d probably want to be close to Palm Beach (busy) or Eagle Beach (much quieter) because of the gorgeous white sand and the crystal clear water and all the convenient rentals. My kids love playing in the sand and the water. We really want to go back to Aruba as a family.
Good tip: if you’re not staying at Palm Beach but want to visit, you can leave your car with any of the hotel valet services (about $15/day + tip). We did this two days in a row and walked through the lobby of the hotel, right to the beach!
Twice we went over to the Renaissance Private Island to enjoy the quiet adult beaches there too and see the flamingoes! I have never seen a flamingo up close before, so it was really fun to be on a beach chair and have them running back and forth along the beach, right in front of me. The private island has lots of chairs, cabanas to rent, hammocks, water toys for rent, towels, bars and a restaurant. We spent a lot of time here 🙂
We don’t usually get to see any movies at home…no time, usually! So we headed over to The Cinemas for an afternoon showing of Black Panther. Tickets were $5.61 ya’ll. That’s for two tickets you guys!! And the medium popcorn and two large drinks were another $6! Movies are cheap in Aruba. I know it seems kind of silly to see a movie on vacation, but when you’ve been sitting in the sun for 4 days in a row, sometimes you want to take a break in an air conditioned room while drinking an ice cold diet coke and munching on some popcorn. WE REGRET NOTHING.
Where we ate
Sooooo many great places!
Gianni’s Italian Restaurant–this was the first place I really wanted to visit after a reader told me about the Spaghetti Al Formaggio Parmigiano….basically spaghetti tossed together in a wheel of parmesan cheese. It’s ground breakingly delicious. Run, don’t walk to eat this. Also, don’t go parasailing immediately after stuffing your face with pasta. Do as we say, not as we do.
Le Petit Cafe–close to Palm Beach and all those hotels. We came for lunch and it was tasty! I ate a great big salad and it was delicious! Gordon had a fish sandwich and it was really good too. But these folks are known for cooking food on hot stones (like coldstone, but hot 😉 ) BUT they only do that at dinner time. So, we got normal food. Another reason to go back to Aruba.
Flying Fishbone–this came as a highly recommended restaurant from many of you! The views were amazing and so was the food! My only issue is how far away from Oranjestad it was. We had our Jeep, so it was a bit of a non-issue, but could see how people couldn’t make it here. Though, the restaurant staff does an amazing job at getting people cabs. At dessert, our server double checked if we needed her to call a taxi for us. They definitely look out for the customer.
Renaissance Aruba Resort Room Service…oh mama, its good! The chicken tenders and the chicken tenders salad were my favorites! Also, the american breakfast that showed up right at 9am on our last day hit the spot. #bacon Just give me room service and a robe. I’m not picky 😉
The Dutch Pancake House–we ate here for breakfast one day and then dinner another day. Tasty little dutch pancakes!! Also NUTELLA!
Casa Tua Pizzeria–really tasty salad and wood-fired pizza around the corner from the Dutch Pancake House.
Atardi–this is a fancier, seafood beach restaurant found at theAruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. We ate the most delicious food here! Every course was phenomenal and there was not one thing that we did not like. It is also located right on the beach so the sunset views we had were so romantic. Be sure to order the Tuna Carpaccio, the Surf & Turf and the Peanut Butter & Chocolate Layers cake. Atardi is a great ‘special dinner’ spot (looked like lots of other celebrations were being had around us!) or if you just want really good food. They also knew it was our anniversary so we got the special treatment. Decorated table and chairs, plus a sparkler in our dessert!
So of course I couldn’t finish this post without a few quick links to help answer some of the questions I’ve been getting about the stuff I bought for Aruba. Truly, it’s a bunch of miscellaneous items that I have been loving! (Some affiliate links below!)
I bought some new sunscreen for our trip (in spf 50 thankyouverymuch) and were both shocked that neither of us got burned. Like at all! We’ve never had that experience before. We didn’t have kids with us to worry about so maybe we took a little extra time to apply it relatively frequently and that’s why we came home not sunkissed in the least?! I dunno. But we both were impressed with it. Be sure to get the SunBum lotion and not the spray.
Beachy, comfy shorts from Target, under $15! My new favorite white t-shirt, also from Target for under $10! I am wearing a ruffled sleeve white t-shirt in some of these photos as well from Splendid. SO comfy!
I mostly wore one-piece swimsuits from Cupshe (this one and this one) but one lazy day on the beach I wore this bikini top and these magical bikini bottoms (which made my butt look half decent and way more round than I ever thought it could be.)
I got a two pack of sunglasses from ASOS because I didn’t want to bring the one expensive pair I own.
I asked for book recommendations and eventually settled on The Magnolia Story which I finished on the flight there. Oops?!
I packed and wore my NY Yankees hat to keep the sun away and that it does. Hooray!
So there you have it! My very long post about Aruba!! If you have any other recommendations to add to my list, do let me know! Have a great day, friends! xo